Evolution: Realising our true identity

[Another bit from my work-in-progress on interpreting Evolution, big bang to now. Dialectical, ‘philosophical’, evolution as spiritual. Photo of sunlight on stream I recently took near here: light-dark, vision-blindness, constant change, no-self-in-Flow….]

THE DIALECTICS OF EVOLUTIONARY GENTLING AND ENLIGHTENMENT

As cosmos, solar system, planet, we gradually calm down as over billions of years our levels of intense heat and cataclysmic explosions and collisions decline down from the supreme energy intensity of our beginnings in the big bang or big bounce singularity.

On Earth our first Hadean geological epoch is one of intense, constant bombardment. This is our primal cosmic birth trauma as planet. However, thereafter these cosmic impacts tend to decline in frequency and soon bacterial Life arises and begins the long evolutionary process of gentling, of creating ‘Goldilocks’ conditions and making our Earth home a more life-accommodating and life-enhancing place.

At the same time, life evolves under the constant stimulus of catastrophe as the cataclysms of cosmos (meteors, asteroids) and geology (plate tectonic drifting and rifting, volcanism, earthquakes) cause mass extinctions, shift ecosystems, wipe slates clean for new experiments and creative adaptations. The terrible Trickster of chaos may often let a new Prometheus of order emerge.

As wind, water, lichen, bacteria, fungi, insects we weather down hard rocks into soft soils. Our detritus and death enhance our life, our individual competition and devouring serve the higher pattern of planetary cooperation and symbiosis that is the Ecosphere.

As plants we green and soften bare earth; we move from being hard ferns, horsetails and conifers to the more ethereal, aromatic and soft-petalled forms of the angiosperms. We are literally flowering into a softer world of eating and being eaten.

However, this lighter, softer beauty may only be skin-deep. For as flowering plants we develop not only pollinator attractants but also new and potent toxics to deter or kill our predators and to out-compete our gymnosperm predecessors which lack such chemical weapons.

As animals, perhaps beginning with worms, we now ‘enlighten’ further as we evolve upwards, headwards, brainwards in a process science calls ‘encephalisation’.

Compared to amphibians, as some reptiles we begin to develop straighter legs and lift our bellies higher off the ground. Already as reptiles, perhaps earlier, we also begin to care for our eggs and offspring. As birds we lose our hard scales and grow soft feathers and as mammals we lose scales, grow soft fur, and our milk-giving mothers and their young ones have longer, closer, more intensive attachments. Play becomes essential to our infant development.

As pack animals we learn to cooperate more within the ongoing hard context of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’. Our increased cooperation can also be for brutal, more efficient killing: big cats, hyenas, wolves, killer whales.

As primates all this gentling further intensifies as we grow soft hands with which we now grasp the world and each other instead of ramming our claws into it or just padding along the ground. Our hands enable a much more intimate and differentiated communication with each other and the world.

We are tuning in to subtler levels of feeling and perception. Cooperation, mutual grooming, maternal nurture and infant play in prolonged dependency further intensify, as do our internal lives and personalities.

However, this differentiating interiority and consciousness moving beyond instinctual responses can also mean the increasing possibility of disassociating, of more internal disturbance, dysfunction, more pathology or neurosis. We can now develop ‘pain bodies’, dysfunctional behavioural patterns that have sedimented out from painful, traumatic early experiences.

Monkey mothers may now not know instinctively how to nurture their offspring, setting up karmic cycles of dysfunction. As chimpanzees we can now ostracise and wage brutal war against our own kind.

As hominids and humans we continue the ‘encephalising’, ‘enlightening’ upward movement by increasing brain size and standing upright on two legs. Our earth-bound sense of smell diminishes as our more abstract sense of sight increases: photon interpretation becomes as important as pheromone interpretation.

Leaving the shelter of the trees, standing ever more upright, we ‘en-lighten’ as we begin to look upwards towards the light and outwards towards far horizons. Our faces become gentler and more feminine, with smaller jaws, smooth foreheads and more expressive eyebrows.
More aware of far horizons, becoming ever more aware of our own brainy inner horizons, we transform the hard realities of biology into the gentler, immaterial and mind-ful realities of culture. Ideally, the body and genes are not suppressed or eliminated but rather transformed and transcended in the new evolutionary dimension of culture, memes, of Mind.

The instincts are now rhythmically channelled and transformed in dance, ritual, language, symbol, myth. Already as Palaeolithic hunters and gatherers we self-domesticate ourselves, humanise ourselves out of the pure wild. With chant and dance and story we integrate, transform and transcend our ex-and internal cosmic and biological rhythms, body into Mind, nature into culture.

And, again in an evolutionary dialectic, this self-domestication and humanization can also mean greater dysfunction, pathology and cruelty.

Culture, young and fearfully insecure in an overwhelming universe, can try and repress its source in nature, biology, body. Mind, becoming increasingly egoic, can try and dominate Life. As culture increasingly differentiates and complexifies, we can start to live mainly in our own symbolic and language worlds, in our personal stories and dramas, in our own mind representations, our egos.

We can now kill and be killed for perceived individual or collective loss of face or egoic status, for a story, concept or symbol like a belief system, a nation or flag, for the status and power-over others associated with class, wealth, possessions, money.

Thus emerging, rising and/or falling into Time, into Ego, both collective (tribal) and/or individual, we can increasingly ‘forget’ our true identity: Being, Presence, Origin, spacious Awareness.

Then, if living, or rather dreaming-sleeping, totally within our language and thought worlds, separated from the real world of the timeless Now, and with all our true Presence and Awareness seemingly gone, we suffer existentially, we are totally unconscious, we are ‘normal’ and insane.

Our external cultures and institutions will express some of this insane normality in oppressive structures, exploitation, cruelty, militarism and war. This has been a not inconsiderable part of human history.

Now, at this critical point in evolution, growing minorities of us are increasingly emerging into another gentling, another enlightenment.

We, the embodied universe becoming self-conscious of itself as Matter, Life and Mind, are increasingly beginning to realize our true identity beyond Matter, Life and Mind, beyond our false identification with these as ego: the ineffable spacious Awareness we have always been, the timeless Now within which all things light and dark, all things gentle and cruel, all universes are arising, evolving, passing.

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on February 8, 2019.

3 Responses to “Evolution: Realising our true identity”

  1. )sigh(….thanks for that peter…i really needed it…
    something to balance out all the chaos and confusion…

    • many thanks Kristi. not easy to stay present to Now i find. my chaos more internal as incessant old thought-feeling cycles sometimes…e.g. while picking blackberries…practise fail practise fail practise…not in the Now is also in the Now, how to fully realise that? Dunno, practising…

  2. i’m more like, practice, fail, fail, fail….forget how to even practice till something reminds me…rinse, repeat…
    not even sure if my perception of now is like yours…
    i really like this way of looking at evolution as a dialectic…i.e. exploitation/gentling, smoothing…as if we are on the inevitable course…just wish it would hurry up already…oops, see…my impatience is certainly not in the now…

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